Yes! Pingo

Yes! Pingo, a Taiwanese restaurant and cafe, has finally opened.

While I’m not crazy about the name, I became very excited about this restaurant when its website promised authentic Taiwanese cuisine and offered popular Taiwanese dishes that aren’t available at other restaurants in San Diego.

Side note: I’m still trying to figure out the name; I should have just asked one of the employees. Pingo sounds like the Chinese word for apple and would explain the apple logo. However, the chinese character being used actually does not mean apple, it just has the same pronunciation.

The opening had a lot of hiccups which really had me concerned. First it was delayed several times. Then just a few days after its soft opening, they decided to close again to work out the kinks they had experienced during the soft opening. When we visited this weekend, things seemed to be running pretty smoothly.

The spacious cafe offers quite a selection of Taiwanese cuisine, including many popular “street food” dishes like Taiwanese meatball, oyster pancake, pork stew noodle, and even stinky tofu.

Taiwanese Meat Ball (肉圓, pronounced Ba Wan)

The Taiwanese Meatball is a very popular street food item. The translucent, gelatinous and chewy shell is filled with savory bamboo shoots, strips of pork, and mushroom. It’s always served with a reddish sauce that is salty and sweet.

The meatball is usually served with the top portion already cut, making it easier to divide and eat. This was quite tasty except for the large chunks of  meat. The meat should be thin, lean strips of pork but the ones inside the meatball were quite big and some were fatty.

Oyster Pancake (also known as oyster omelette) (蚵仔煎, pronounced oh ah jen)

This is another classic Taiwanese street dish. Beaten eggs are cooked with potato or tapioca starch, creating a gelatinous texture similar to the meatball. It’s spread out flat like a pancake but filled with baby oysters and napa cabbage. Also like the meatball, it’s drizzled with the red sauce.

While the ingredients for this dish are pretty simple, the tricky part is the execution which takes some skill to master. As a result, most of the versions I’ve found in the US have been pretty terrible. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the version here. It was one of the better versions I’ve had outside of Taiwan and on par with the versions I’ve had in Los Angeles. I’d definitely order this one again.

Pork Stew Noodles

This is basically a noodle soup but it’s called a stew because the broth has been thickened considerably with cornstarch, giving it more of a stew-like consistency. This is normally one of my favorites and I always have to have it in Taiwan, so I order it whenever I can find it on the menu. There is also a squid version which I enjoy even more but they were out of the squid one on my visit.

Unfortunately, this was a disappointment. The stew is usually full of bold flavors, but this version was really bland. The only thing giving it flavor was the minced ground pork, which I actually have never seen a version that even contains the ground pork.

Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice

This was Mr. K’s choice. The portion size was quite big. It was your typical home style fried rice with chunks of Taiwanese sausage mixed in. It tasted fine but I also felt it was something I could easily recreate at home.

Fried Stinky Tofu

I was surprised to see this on the menu. While it’s a popular Taiwanese street food, a lot of restaurants tend to avoid serving it because of the strong odor which can be unpleasant for customers unused to eating this fermented tofu dish. This was the biggest failure of our visit and I would not recommend ordering this dish.

There was indeed an odor with the tofu but it was different from the fermented odor typically associated with the tofu. Instead, it was replaced with another smell I couldn’t quite distinguish. Mr. K helpfully suggested old tires. It was as if they tried to vacuum out the normal fermented stinky smell and ended up replacing it with something else that smelled almost chemical. I actually could barely stand the smell, making me realize that my reaction is probably the reaction many have to stinky tofu. The tofu also tasted like the smell so I didn’t even finish this.

Milk Tea with Pearls

Like most Taiwanese cafes, they have a pretty large list of milk tea variations. I stuck with the classic and loved the large bottle glass it was served in.

Overall we had a decent experience here. We liked some dishes and didn’t like others. I’m happy to see a Taiwanese restaurant open in San Diego that offers such a varied menu and I’m looking forward to trying out more items.

Yes! Pingo
4813 Convoy Street
San Diego CA 92111
https://www.yespingo.com

16 comments on “Yes! Pingo”

  1. I am so jealous that you have a Taiwanese restaurant by you! I love to eat ??? but we have none in this area, sadly.

  2. Nice roundup. Too bad about the stinky tofu (haha, “old tires”). There’s got to be a story behind their name, hmmm.

    • I guess I should have asked. Pingo means apple, and that’s why they have an apple picture. I don’t know why they put a Yes! in front of it though.

  3. This restaurant is in the same strip mall where I go to see my chiropractor and it’s looked like it hasn’t been open for awhile (which I suppose it hasn’t!). I actually didn’t even realize it was a restaurant. I kept trying to figure out what Pingo was (it rhymes with Bingo, so I thought it was a game hahah). Thanks for solving the mystery for me! I’ll have to check it out.

    • For the longest time I thought it might be one of those tutorial language schools because those often have weird names like that.

  4. Hi Kirbie, I also tried out this place last weekend. I liked their tea a lot – better than Tea Garden’s. I tried the pig feet over rice and thought the flavor was decent, and S got the pork chop over rice. Quite a few of the menu items aren’t available yet, sadly, and they ran out of beef noodle soup the day we visited (although to be fair, we went around 10pm). Overall we were pretty happy with the place, but I plan on visiting once more to get some more items for a post 🙂 Great round-up, though!

    • I liked my milk tea and I liked the sweetened pearls, though I thought some of their tea drinks were on the pricey side. I was really curious about the beef noodle soup but it costs so much! And it doesn’t even have handmade noodles or anything. But I am curious about other items and I liked most of what I tried. i want to get the oyster pancake again and get some other items.

  5. Nice to see a Taiwanese restaurant opening on Convoy! I checked out the menu on the website and it seems to have a lot more items including sizzling plates and individual hotpots. Did you see those on the menu while you were there? I wonder how the latter compares to E & Drinks…

    • I think the online menu is not up-to-date, or perhaps it is items they plan for eventually? Because the menu I was given (which I attached to the end of the post) did not have the sizzling plates or hot pots. I saw them on the online menu too when I was writing up this post. I would love to see individual hot pots, so hopefully they will have it soon.

  6. Ah, I’m so happy that San Diego finally opened up a Taiwanese street food place! Gonna go try it this weekend!

    • I’m so happy too! Not everything is as good as Taiwan obviously but they have a pretty good variety and satisfied some of my cravings.

  7. Oh thanks for that post! I never knew a Taiwanese place was opening! I’ll have to try it out soon. It’s hard to find a genuine ba wan anywhere close to here so curious to see their version . I’m leaving for Taiwan next week so hope to get my fix on some quality food soon 🙂

    • Oooh, visiting Taiwan! I’m jealous. I’m surprised you didn’t know about Yes Pingo opening. You always seem to be in the know of new stuff happening!

  8. Hey Kirbie,

    I heard mix reviews of this place from my TW friends, particularly regarding the quality of the ingredients used. They did mention a place on Miramar called Lai Cheng (???that the cook is actually TW and they have a chinese menu with really good TW foods. Have you been? Do you wanna try it out? Its in the complex with Robertos, Indian buffer, and Carls Junior. Used to be China Chef a long long time ago. I didnt even know this place existed. Lets try sometime!

    Steve

    • Hi Steve, I have been to Lai Cheng. That place is more homestyle Taiwanese food. I think it is okay, but I feel like it’s stuff I can make at home so I don’t go often. I agree that the Yes! Pingo is a little bit hit and miss depending on the dish, but I like that they offer street food. and it looks like they are going to be offering snow ice soon! Anyways, let’s go eat!

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